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Denver Public Library Announces Recipients of 2020 Latino Community Service Awards

The Denver Public Library has announced the recipients of its annual Latino Community Service Awards. The awards honor individuals who have made a deep and lasting impact on our city and state. Each year, the library honors Latino leaders with three awards. Winners are selected by a committee of library commissioners, community members and library staff.

No public event was held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Winners will be acknowledged through a social media campaign throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. 

The Lena L. Archuleta Community Service Award: Angela Cobián

The recipient will be a person of Latino descent who has made a positive impact in the Denver community, beyond paid employment, in the field of education, youth development, early childhood programming or education policy. 

Angela Cobián is a first-generation Mexican-American and a first generation college graduate. Ms. Cobián graduated from Colorado College in 2011. During this time she earned the Fred Sonderman Award in Political Science and membership in the Pi Gamma Mu Honors Society.

Following college, Ms. Cobián returned to Denver to teach Literacy for English Language Acquisition-Spanish students in the second and third grade, she also earned a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado-Denver. In 2013, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to consult with Ensena por Mexico on program development for student-led social change initiatives and to teach English at the National Pedagogical University in Mexico City. 

Upon her return from Mexico, Cobián was a Bilingual Community Organizer with Together Colorado, an affiliate of the PICO National Network. She co-led school and congregation-based organizations alongside parents and parishioners addressing immigration and education issues. She continues her work in collective action today as the Director of National Organizing and Development with Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE). The Denver Foundation awarded her the Swanee Hunt Emerging Leader Award in 2017 in recognition of her community work.

Ms. Cobián currently represents District 2 on the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education. She also serves as Treasurer and Chairperson of the Finance and Audit Committee, and co-led the 2020-21 budget process and COVID-19 response with the DPS Chief Financial Officer.

Ms. Cobián is not only a voice for her constituents, she has used her organizing skills to activate her constituents to be involved in education and elevated their voices in the Denver Public Schools decision-making process.

Eric J. Duran Community Service Award: Jesse Ogas

The recipient will be a person of Latino descent who has made a positive impact in the Denver community, beyond paid employment, to advance community development and/or cultural life through their involvement with the Denver Public Library or another civic institution. 

Jesse Ogas was born and raised in Santa Clara, New Mexico. Mr. Ogas has championed the struggles for children who have experienced sexual and mental abuse. He tells of his own story with sexual abuse and how he was able to heal and become a productive citizen and family man. He spoke to the legislature about his personal and painful experience during a session regarding Sexual Assault on Children. He has also taken on a quest to reach those on the autism spectrum to attain their full potential. 

As the director of Firefly Autism, he goes beyond the expectation of the Board to reach out to monolingual Spanish speaking children and their families. This population has been sorely underrepresented in therapeutic care. In his volunteer endeavors with Clinica Tepeyac and the President's Community Cabinet at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU), he purposely ties in the resources of these organizations to the needs of children on the spectrum, creating a wider sphere of care. For example, he is working with MSU faculty to create a program for MSU students who wish to major in the behavioral sciences specifically for children with autism. 

Jesse has embraced diversity and equity in his work, volunteer and personal life. As a member of Su Teatro, Jesse has a platform to tell our story, our traditions. He is very intentional in representing himself as a gay Latino with pride and conviction. In addition to his role at Firefly Autism, Jesse also currently serves as a board member of NewEd, Clinica Tepeyac, Escuela Tlatelolco, and the Mental Health Center of Denver. 

The César Chávez Latino Leadership Hall of Fame Award: Emanuel Martinez & Guadalupe “Lupe” Briseño

The award, presented annually, will celebrate the induction of one individual into the César Chávez Leadership Hall of Fame. The recipient will be a Coloradan of Latino descent who is committed to social justice and has made a significant positive impact in their community through community organizing, direct service and/or advocacy and public policy. 

Emanuel Martinez

Emanuel Martinez was born in Denver, Colorado in 1947. Mr. Martinez began his career as an artist at the age of 13, when he painted his first mural. He was just 16 when he became an activist by joining Los Voluntarios, a political organization headed by Rudolfo "Corky” Gonzales. 

In 1966, Martinez was one of the incorporators of the Crusade for Justice Civil Rights organization and met César Chávez  at the union hall in Denver. At this event Emanuel had his first art exhibit and presented Chávez  with a painting. Chávez  invited him to go to Delano, CA to work as an artist for the United Farmworkers Organization. Emanuel was paid five dollars a week. At the age of 20, he created the "Farmworkers Altar" in Los Angeles for the 1968 event where Chávez  broke his 25 day fast. This altar and another one of Martinez’s pieces are now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. That same year, Emanuel volunteered his time to the Poor People's Campaign in Washington D.C. as a staff member for the Southern Christian Leadership conference (SCLC), and art director at the Crusade For Justice cultural center.

Since 1965, Emanuel has been committed to the Chicano/Latino struggle for justice in the United States. He has donated his time and his artwork to numerous Latino organizations for decades. At 72, he continues to work with incarcerated youth through the Emanuel Project, a non profit organization started in 2011, where his achievements include 50 murals in facilities in 14 different states. 

As a muralist, painter and sculptor, Martinez occupies an outstanding status among nationally known artists. Since establishing a studio in 1968, Martinez has received international acclaim and prestigious awards for his design capabilities and high standards of workmanship.

Some of his awards include the 1985 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, 1995 Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, 2001 Civil Rights Award presented by NEWSED, and he was inducted into the Colorado Latino Hall of Fame in 2018. Throughout his lengthy career he has volunteered his service for numerous Chicano organizations, committees and boards.

Guadalupe “Lupe” Briseño

Guadalupe “Lupe” Briseño was born in Texas and began her working life  as a migrant laborer. Mrs. Briseño eventually settled in Colorado. In 1968, she began working at the Kitayama Carnation Farm where she experienced deplorable working conditions. She organized the primarily Latina workforce at the floral farm in Brighton, Colorado to form the National Florist Workers Organization to demand better working conditions, medical coverage and higher wages.

As the organizer of the Kitayama Carnation Strike, Lupe Briseño demonstrated the effectiveness of Latina leadership in Colorado’s Labor Movement and set the stage for the Colorado Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Her story is an important chapter in the history of Colorado, the evolution of Latina feminist leadership and the struggle for Chicano Civil Rights.

Lupe's work as a labor and union organizer has been recognized by the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame, where she was inducted in 2019. Her role in history has inspired a play by Su Teatro and she is a central figure in the Year of La Chicana exhibit at History Colorado as well as  in the history of women in the labor movement at the Byers Evans House. Her role in Latino history in Colorado is also documented in articles by academic researcher Dr. Priscilla Falcón.

Additionally, we would like to recognize and honor the women who supported Lupe’s efforts—Lupe Briseño and the Strong Women of Brighton

  • Martha del Real
  • Mary Padilla
  • Mary Sailas
  • Rachel Sandoval


Written by ogallegos on Septiembre 22, 2020